Question of the Day: Strange Little Songs

28 03 2007

What are the weirdest song titles in your playlist or music collection? Submitted by Charline.

Gosh, where do I begin? There are 7,500+ songs on my iPod right now, and I have fairly eclectic taste. I like world music, 80s covers, folk music, avant-garde classical, and on and on. I don’t think much, if any, of my collection is actually “weird,” but your mileage may vary.

So, what in my collection is a little, um, offbeat? There’s a Hawaiian band‘s cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Baby, Can I Hold You?” Does that set off your weird-o-meter? How about poet Allen Ginsberg singing a song called “Vomit Express”? The original “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” in all its strangely-peppy-but-anti-Vietnam-War glory? A bobsledding song called “Racing on the Edge” by Brady Swenson? An R&B song called “Our Love Would Be Much Better (If I Gave a Damn About You)”?

I carry around a half dozen covers of The Smiths’ “There Is a Light that Never Goes Out”; trucking songs like “Convoy” and “Six Days on the Road”; some Dean Martin near some Def Leppard; a healthy dose of Czech bluegrass; the coolest blues song of all time, Little Milton’s “The Blues Is Alright”; an entire album of music, including “Eleanor Rigby,” played on a toy piano; and Marlene Dietrich’s cover of “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”—originally, of course, from Oklahoma!

I have a soft spot for a Marie Osmond song, “Meet Me in Montana” (with Dan Seals); a cover of “Teenage Dirtbag” by a Belgian children’s choir; a musical setting of an e.e. cummings poem, “yes is a pleasant country,” by jazz singer Susanne Abbuehl; a collaboration between a Hawaiian steel-guitar master and a Japanese folk musician; and a style of music known as “chicken scratch.”

Among the collections on my iPod are: an album of music from Cape Verde, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau; a cool set of songs about Oklahoma (the state, not the musical); several albums of north African music; a collection of songs by Mardi Gras Indians; and tribute albums to Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings, Greg Brown, and folk musician Kate Wolf.

But I think the “weirdest” thing on my iPod is probably the cover of Elvis’s “Viva Las Vegas” by Dread Zeppelin, the reggae Led Zeppelin cover band. That song is irresistible. Download it, if you dare.


The Watch

25 03 2007

I never got around to blogging all the details of my December trip to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. I’ve waited too long to go into any detail about the trip now, but there are a couple of things I still plan to mention.

One is the daily reminder I have of the trip: I bought a watch. Now this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but I’ve never been a watch-wearer (unless a football-themed watch in third grade counts). In fact, for much of my adult life, I’ve sort of been philosophically opposed to watches. We let time run our lives. It’s oppressive, even. Would we even have clocks if employers hadn’t needed a way to systematically lash us to our desks (or factory equipment or whatever)? I have to wonder….

Anyway, in my opinion, time is a tool, and it’s a tool that’s usually used against us. And I never felt like I wanted or needed a constant reminder of that on my arm. Plus, there’s almost never a situation anymore where you need a watch. There’s always a clock around somewhere. If you’ve got a cellphone, the time’s right there on your belt or in your purse. If you’re in a car, the time’s on your dashboard. If you’re out in public, you probably just have to look up to find a clock.

TAG Heuer Formula 1

But a few months ago, I saw this beautiful TAG Heuer watch—the brand’s tribute to Formula 1 racing (a passion of mine). The watch appealed to me more as a piece of design than anything else. I kept going back to the jewelry store to admire it. Did I want the blue face, or the red face, or the black face? Did I want the chronograph option, with those extra dials on the face? Did I want the steel or the rubber strap?

So when I was in Las Vegas, shopping at the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes, I popped into every jewelry store to admire the TAG Heuer watches. And at one store, I found the version I’d settled on—the red-faced, chronograph-less option with a steel band. I pulled out the credit card, and soon it was on my arm. Actually, it was on my arm only after the salesman removed what he said were more steel links than he’d ever removed on a man’s watch. Hey, I’ve got petite wrists! But it looks pretty darn good on my petite wrist.

I guess this watch-buying officially makes me a hypocrite. I felt so strongly about not wanting a watch, but then I fell for one. In fact, and I probably shouldn’t admit this, I keep finding other beautiful watches to admire now, too. Like this limited-edition TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage:

TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage

Nice, huh? I don’t even want to know how much it costs because I’m sure I can’t afford it. I’ve just got to stay out of jewelry stores for awhile.

I should have my watch engraved: H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.

Creep Factor

24 03 2007

“Creeps don’t have good friends,” says the bride from the wedding featured in last week’s New York Times. I’ve been wondering all week whether that’s necessarily true. I don’t think it is.

Obviously, there are good reasons why a creep might not have good friends. The guy—let’s call him Dating Creep—might be creepy to would-be friends and they’d ditch him. In fact, some creeps, perhaps even most creeps, are mean to just about everyone. These creeps just can’t stop themselves. So in that sense, there’s probably something to what the bride has to say. It may be a useful guide.

But I think the bride’s statement goes a little too far. For instance, Dating Creep might be good to his friends but a jerk to his dates. It might even be a running joke in that circle how undateable Dating Creep actually is. Surely, we’ve all known some guy who is both beloved by his friends but perpetually single.

In fact, Dating Creep might be so devoted to his circle of friends that he doesn’t see any real need to find a long-term romantic partner. I think that’s some of the reason the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away (SWGA), who is well into his 40s, has never been in a durable relationship. He just never saw the point. Nearly every night, he has dinner with one of his pals. He goes to bars with friends. He goes shopping with friends. If he wants to see a movie, or hit a casino, or just hang out, someone’s available.

What about sex, you’re asking? Well, if we’re talking about gay guys (and, yes, I know the bride wasn’t!), sex is always available. For some, anyway, finding a sex partner is as easy as hitting a bar or a chat room. That hasn’t always been my experience, but it’s definitely been SWGA’s. He has a sort of boyish charisma that definitely works on first meetings.

(Is that true for straight guys? That’s outside my area of expertise. Do straight guys have many fewer, um, outlets for easy sex? If so, that may serve as a deterrent keeping your average guy from becoming an undateable creep. Maybe that makes the bride’s statement more trustworthy as a guideline.)

SWGA, anyway, wallows in an acute network of friends, and I can’t say that I really blame him. (Well, ok, maybe I do, just a little). When I first fell into his life all those years ago, I think I halfway wanted part of his life. I wanted him definitely, but I wanted to belong to such a tight-knit group. Those guys loved each other, and they were there for one another. It showed, powerfully so, to someone as lonely as I was.

But SWGA is still undateable—at least in the sense our bride means. He rarely dates someone more than three or four times. He says he’s not at all sure what falling in love feels like. He’s insensitive to the feelings of sad guys, like me, who fall for him. When it comes to dating, he’s a creep. Despite the network of good friends.

So don’t take that bride’s statement too far.

Question of the Day: Hoop Dreams

24 03 2007

Who’s going to be in the Final Four?

I’m the Bracketmaster for my office’s not-quite-a-pool (i.e., no money changes hands). Of the 26 players, I’m currently sitting in a measly 10th place. Sigh. Who could’ve predicted that there’d be so few upsets this year? (Answer: Obviously, at least nine of my office-mates.)

When the tournament began, my Final Four was Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, and Texas A&M. Of those four teams, only A&M has been eliminated. If you asked me today, and I guess you are, I’d pick Ohio State to come out of that bracket instead.

So…my Final Four teams today are Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, and Ohio State. That’s three No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed, Georgetown. Sigh. What an unpredictably predictable tournament this has been!

For the record, I picked Georgetown to win it all, and—despite last night’s close call—I’m sticking with the Hoyas.

That’ll be ginger ale for me, thanks.

23 03 2007

In case you’ve been wondering (and, gosh, I hope someone was), I’ve been sick this week. Really sick. I’m not talking about the kind of sick that allows me to watch game shows and SportsCenter and old movies from bed. Or to browse the internet every couple of hours. Or even to sit out in the sun on the balcony and remember what it felt like to be alive. No, this was the kind of sick where my body hurt and all I wanted to do was sleep. Where I had colorful, disturbing dreams that my soulmate was dating a man named Jett. (Jett?! Where the hell did that come from?) Where I felt like crying and mostly just wanted my mommy. The day I started getting sick, I actually crawled out of my chair at work and curled up on the floor for awhile. (Hey, I closed the door. Shut up.) It went downhill from there.

I’m feeling somewhat more normal now—no fever, less tiredness, and less stomach (warning: euphemism alert!) upset. I’ve still got a bit of a headache, and I basically haven’t eaten anything except crackers for three days. But I’m fairly certain I’ll survive.

So, I really don’t have much to blog about. Life passed me by this week. To make up for my own lack of content, how about a YouTube video featuring one of my favorite bloggers, PeaceBang, author of PeaceBang’s Beauty Tips for Ministers? PeaceBang was on Nightline. Way cool, huh? Go watch it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

17 03 2007

Irish Stout

Vox Hunt: Coming Soon To A Screen Near Me

15 03 2007

The Namesake
Vox Hunt
: Show us the next DVD or movie you’re looking forward to seeing.

The Namesake opens around here tomorrow, and I hope to see it soon. (My fondness for the NCAA basketball tourney may get in the way a little bit.) I listened to the audiobook a few years ago on my commute, and I was absolutely charmed. At some level, I think, it was Sarita Choudhury‘s amazing reading of the novel—more so even that Jhumpa Lahiri’s text—that pulled me in. Over 10-plus hours, though, I fell for the story of the inelegantly named protagonist, Gogol Ganguli, whose parents emigrated from India.

I’m not a second-generation anything, but the story nevertheless appealed to me. Gogol is awkward, and he struggles to find his place—or any place. I can absolutely relate to that. Who can’t?

When I was reading listening to The Namesake, I couldn’t really imagine it as a motion picture, though. Not all that much happens. So much of the novel is about interior space, about Gogol’s thoughts, about his internal struggles. I’m curious to see how well the movie captures that.